A detailed guide to create

Application Modernization Roadmap

Explore the step-by-step guide to creating an application modernization roadmap. Learn key strategies, benefits, and pitfalls to avoid.

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Application modernization is a critical pathway to aligning technology with business goals, fostering innovation, and staying competitive in today's rapidly evolving digital landscape.

An accurate and detailed roadmap for this complex process is essential. It guides you to analyze existing systems, identify areas for improvement, and estimate the necessary efforts for transformation.

This guide helps you understand the roadmap and dives into the steps to create one.

📚 Related: Application Modernization Solution


What is the application modernization roadmap?

An application modernization roadmap is a strategic plan that outlines all steps, activities, and timelines for transforming outdated or legacy applications into modern and efficient systems.

It ensures that the modernization process aligns with business objectives, follows best practices, and is executed in a systematic and controlled manner.

The complexity of modernizing software gets broken down into manageable phases, each with specific goals, tasks, and milestones.

The roadmap allows you to:

  • Analyze the existing application portfolio, identifying the applications that need modernization and understanding their current functionality, technology stack, and dependencies.
  • Assess the business value, technical condition, and complexity of the application landscape, prioritizing them based on factors such as criticality and usage.
  • Estimate the effort, resources, and costs required for modernization, providing a clear picture of the investment needed and the expected return on investment (ROI).
  • Plan the modernization activities, define the strategies, methodologies, tools, and technologies to be used, and set timelines and milestones for each phase.
  • Ensure alignment with organizational goals, compliance requirements, and industry standards, mitigating risks and addressing potential challenges proactively.

📚 Related: Cloud Adoption

Importance in the application modernization process

An app modernization roadmap plays a vital role in the success of the modernization initiative. Its importance lies in:

  • Guiding the transformation: It provides a clear direction, helping stakeholders understand the what, why, and how of modernization.
  • Facilitating decision-making: By providing detailed insights into the current state and future goals, the roadmap helps in making informed decisions, selecting the right approaches, and prioritizing efforts.
  • Managing complexity: Modernizing applications is a complex and multifaceted process. The roadmap helps in managing this complexity by breaking down the process into manageable parts, defining clear responsibilities, and setting achievable goals.
  • Mitigating risks: By identifying potential challenges, risks, and dependencies early in the process, the roadmap allows for proactive risk management, reducing uncertainties, and avoiding surprises.
  • Monitoring progress: The roadmap serves as a tracking tool, enabling continuous monitoring of progress, assessing performance against planned milestones, and making necessary adjustments to stay on track.
  • Aligning with business goals: It ensures that the modernization efforts are aligned with the overall business strategy, supporting the organization's growth, innovation, and competitive positioning.

In essence, the roadmap enables you to approach the modernization process with clarity, confidence, and control, maximizing the chances of delivering tangible business benefits.

📚 Related: 4 Application Modernization Trends


5 Steps to Application Modernization with LeanIX

Learn about the 5 key steps to successful application modernization and how LeanIX can help you at every stage.

5 Steps to Application Modernization with LeanIX

Key benefits

Creating an application modernization roadmap is not just a preparatory step; it's a strategic activity that brings significant benefits to the organization.

Here's how crafting a detailed and accurate roadmap can add value to the modernization process:

Clarity and alignment

  • Shared vision: A well-defined roadmap ensures that all stakeholders have a shared understanding of the modernization goals, strategies, and timelines, fostering collaboration and alignment.
  • Strategic alignment: By linking modernization efforts to business objectives, the roadmap ensures that the initiative supports the organization's strategic goals and priorities.

Risk mitigation

  • Proactive risk management: The roadmap helps identify potential risks and challenges early in the process, allowing for proactive mitigation strategies, reducing uncertainties, and enhancing project success.
  • Compliance assurance: By addressing regulatory and compliance requirements in the planning phase, the roadmap ensures that the modernized applications meet all necessary legal and industry standards.

Resource optimization

  • Efficient resource allocation: The roadmap enables the efficient allocation of resources, ensuring that the right people, tools, and technologies are in place at the right time.
  • Cost control: Cost estimates and budget planning in the roadmap help control the costs, ensuring that the modernization initiative stays within budget and delivers the desired ROI.

Agility and flexibility

  • Adaptive planning: A well-crafted roadmap is not a rigid plan; it's a flexible guide that can adapt to changes and unexpected developments.
  • Facilitated change management: By providing a clear path and milestones, the roadmap facilitates change management, helping the organization navigate the transformation smoothly and efficiently.

Performance tracking and improvement

  • Continuous monitoring: The roadmap tracks progress, measures performance against milestones, and allows adjustments to stay on course.
  • Performance optimization: By analyzing progress and performance, the roadmap helps in identifying areas for improvement, optimizing processes, and enhancing the overall effectiveness of the modernization effort.

Enhancing stakeholder engagement

  • Clear communication: The roadmap serves as a communication tool, providing clear and consistent information to all stakeholders, enhancing transparency, and building trust.
  • Stakeholder buy-in: When you involve stakeholders in the roadmap creation process, you can address their concerns and expectations. The roadmap helps in securing buy-in and support, ensuring a collaborative and committed approach to modernization.

When you're able to combine these benefits, the roadmap ensures that the modernization is well-planned, well-executed, and well-aligned with the organization's goals and needs.

Developing an application modernization roadmap

With the weight and importance a roadmap has on the future of business, the activity requires a methodical approach.

It's not just about identifying the right technologies or estimating the effort. It's about aligning the entire modernization process with the business objectives and ensuring that the roadmap is accurate, detailed, and actionable.

Let's see the steps you need to plan:

Step 1: Define the scope and objectives

Defining the scope and objectives is the foundational step in creating an application modernization roadmap. It involves understanding the business context, selecting the right applications, and setting clear goals.

Questions you may answer:

  • What are the specific business needs driving the modernization?
  • Which applications are most critical to modernize?
  • What are the measurable goals?


  • Objective: A clear statement of the modernization goals and the business needs it aims to address.
  • Scope: An overview of the applications to be modernized, the chosen strategies, and the expected outcomes.
  • High-level timeline: A broad timeline that provides an overview of the major phases and milestones.

This step ensures alignment with organizational needs and provides a clear direction, making it essential for success.

Step 2: Establish monitoring and evaluation criteria

Establishing monitoring and evaluation criteria is a vital step in ensuring that the modernization effort stays on track and achieves the desired outcomes.

It's about setting clear performance metrics, implementing continuous monitoring tools, and defining evaluation criteria that align with the project's goals.

Questions you may answer:

  • How will success be measured?
  • What are the key performance indicators (KPIs)?
  • How will progress be tracked and evaluated?
  • How will deviations be identified and addressed?


  • Performance metrics: Key performance indicators (KPIs) that will be used to measure the success of the modernization effort. These metrics should be aligned with the project's objectives and provide quantifiable insights into performance improvements, cost savings, and business impact.
  • Monitoring tools: Tools and processes for continuous monitoring and tracking of progress. This includes implementing dashboards, reporting systems, and analytics tools that provide real-time visibility into the project's status, performance, and risks.
  • Evaluation criteria: Criteria for evaluating the success of the modernization effort, including performance improvements, cost savings, and business impact. This involves defining clear benchmarks, standards, and targets that reflect the project's goals and vision.

By establishing robust monitoring and evaluation criteria, you can ensure that the modernization effort is continually assessed, optimized, and aligned with the strategic goals.

It's about creating a feedback loop that enables continuous learning, adaptation, and improvement.

Step 3: Assess the current state

Assessing the current state is a critical phase in the roadmap creation process. It involves a detailed analysis of existing applications, their performance, dependencies, and potential risks.

This step provides valuable insights into areas needing improvement, identifies complexities, and helps in planning the modernization strategy. It forms the basis for informed decision-making, allowing for an accurate assessment of the current landscape.

Questions you may answer:

  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the current applications?
  • What risks and challenges might be encountered during modernization?


  • Application inventory: A detailed list of the existing applications, including their functionality, technology stack, dependencies, and performance metrics.
  • Risk assessment: An analysis of the potential risks and challenges, including technical debt, security vulnerabilities, and compliance issues.
  • Cost analysis: An estimate of the current costs of maintaining and operating the legacy systems.

Step 4: Define the future state vision

Defining the future state vision is a pivotal step that sets the direction for the entire modernization effort. This step involves painting a clear picture of the target technology architecture and how it will fit into the broader business strategy.

Questions you may answer:

  • What will the target architecture look like?
  • How will it align with business objectives?
  • What compliance and security standards must be met?


  • Target architecture: A description of the desired future state, including the target technology architecture, integration requirements, and scalability considerations.
  • Business alignment: A clear alignment of the modernization efforts with the organization's strategic goals and business objectives.
  • Compliance and security requirements: A detailed outline of the compliance and security standards that modernized applications must meet.

By defining the target architecture, organizations create a roadmap that is not only technically sound but also strategically aligned and responsive to market needs.

Step 6: Develop the modernization strategy

Developing a modernization strategy is a critical phase where the organization outlines the specific approach and methods to achieve the future state vision.

This step requires a deep analysis of the current systems and a clear understanding of the desired outcomes. It's about choosing the right path that balances risk, cost, time, and value.

Questions you may answer:

  • How will the existing applications be transformed?
  • What are the best strategies for rehosting, re-platforming, rearchitecting, rebuilding, or replacing?
  • What technologies, tools, and platforms will be used?


  • Modernization approach: A detailed explanation of the chosen modernization approach, whether it's rehosting, re-platforming, rearchitecting, rebuilding, or replacing.
  • Technology selection: A list of the technologies, tools, and platforms that will be used in the modernization process.
  • Migration plan: A step-by-step plan for migrating data, code, and other assets from the legacy systems to the new (cloud) environment. This includes defining the migration process, identifying potential challenges, and developing strategies to overcome them.

It's about making informed decisions that take into account the unique characteristics of the existing systems and the specific needs of the business.

This way modernization is not just a technical exercise but a strategic initiative that delivers real value.

Step 6: Create the implementation plan

Creating the implementation plan is where the modernization strategy is translated into actionable tasks and milestones. It's a detailed roadmap that outlines the entire process of transforming legacy applications into modern systems.

Questions you may answer:

  • How will the migration be executed?
  • What are the specific tasks, dependencies, milestones, and deadlines?
  • Who will be responsible for each task?
  • How will risks be mitigated?


  • Project timeline: A detailed timeline that includes all the tasks, dependencies, milestones, and deadlines. This provides a clear view of the entire project, allowing for effective scheduling, tracking, and management.
  • Resource allocation: A plan for allocating resources, including team members, budgets, and tools. This involves identifying the required skills, roles, and responsibilities and ensuring that the right people and resources are assigned to the right tasks.
  • Risk mitigation strategies: Specific strategies to address and mitigate the identified risks and challenges. This includes conducting a thorough risk analysis, developing contingency plans, and implementing measures to minimize potential issues.

It's about breaking down the complex process into manageable tasks and aligning them with the overall goals and vision. It guides the team through the entire journey, providing clarity, direction, and support.

Also, it ensures that everyone involved understands their roles and responsibilities and that the project stays on track, on time, and on budget.

Step 7: Engage stakeholders and communicate the plan

Engaging stakeholders and communicating the plan is a critical step in ensuring the success of the application modernization roadmap. This involves identifying all the stakeholders involved, understanding their roles, interests, and concerns, and developing a comprehensive communication and engagement plan.

Questions you may answer:

  • Who needs to be involved?
  • What are their expectations and concerns?
  • How will they be kept informed and engaged?
  • How will their feedback be solicited and incorporated?


  • Stakeholder identification: A list of all the stakeholders involved in the modernization effort, including their roles and responsibilities. This includes internal stakeholders such as executives, managers, developers, and end-users, as well as external stakeholders such as vendors, partners, and regulators.
  • Communication channels: A plan for regular communication with stakeholders, including meetings, reports, and updates. This involves defining the frequency, format, and channels of communication, ensuring that stakeholders are kept informed, engaged, and aligned.
  • Change management strategies: Strategies to manage organizational change and ensure smooth adoption of modernized applications. This includes training, support, and communication strategies that address the human and cultural aspects of change.

By engaging stakeholders and communicating the plan effectively, organizations can ensure that the modernization effort is supported, understood, and embraced by all those involved.

It's about creating a sense of ownership, alignment, and collaboration, fostering a culture of trust, transparency, and teamwork.

This way the voices, insights, and expertise of all stakeholders are leveraged, enhancing the quality, relevance, and impact of the modernization effort.

It shouldn't be just a project but a partnership towards a common goal. A collaborative effort that leverages the collective wisdom, creativity, and commitment of all those involved.

📚 Related: Application Modernization with LeanIX


Challenges to avoid

Creating an application modernization roadmap is a complex task that requires careful planning and execution. However, there are common pitfalls that organizations must be aware of and avoid:

  1. Lack of clarity and alignment: Unclear objectives can lead to a directionless roadmap, and misalignment with business goals can reduce its effectiveness.
  2. Insufficient analysis and planning: Failure to analyze existing systems and ignoring complexity and dependencies can lead to unrealistic timelines and planning errors.
  3. Resource and stakeholder challenges: Inadequate resource allocation and lack of stakeholder engagement can hinder alignment and support for the roadmap.
  4. Technology and execution missteps: Choosing the wrong technology and poor execution and monitoring can derail the modernization process.
  5. Ignoring security and compliance: Neglecting security considerations and non-compliance with regulations can lead to serious legal and operational risks.
  6. Failure to consider long-term sustainability: Ignoring the long-term impact and not considering sustainability and scalability can limit the roadmap's future viability.

By being aware of these pitfalls and taking proactive measures to avoid them, organizations can create a more effective and successful application modernization roadmap.

How LeanIX helps with the application modernization roadmap?

LeanIX EAM is a leading Enterprise Architecture (EA) tool that plays a vital role in the planning, management, and tracking of application modernization.

Here's how LeanIX EAM can assist:

  • Comprehensive analysis: It provides a detailed analysis of the existing IT landscape, identifying areas that need modernization. It allows organizations to assess the complexity, effort, and business value of each application, ensuring an accurate roadmap.
  • Collaboration and alignment: It fosters collaboration between IT and business stakeholders. It ensures that the modernization roadmap aligns with business goals and strategies, facilitating a unified approach.
  • Scenario planning: With LeanIX, organizations can create various modernization scenarios, estimate costs, and analyze potential impacts. This helps in choosing the most suitable path for modernization.
  • Monitoring and reporting: It offers robust monitoring and reporting features. Organizations can track the progress of their modernization efforts, follow key activities, and generate detailed reports. This ensures that the roadmap is continually updated and remains relevant.
  • Integration with other tools: LeanIX EAM can be integrated with other tools, such as Jira for project management or Collibra for data governance. This seamless integration ensures a smooth flow of information and enhances efficiency.
  • Pre-built templates: It provides pre-built templates for roadmap creation. These templates can be customized to address the specific needs of the organization, allowing for a quicker start to the modernization journey.
  • Risk mitigation: By providing a clear view of dependencies and potential risks, LeanIX helps in risk mitigation. It ensures that potential challenges are identified early, and appropriate measures are taken to address them.
  • Compliance and security: It ensures that the modernization roadmap complies with relevant regulations and security standards. It helps in identifying potential compliance issues and provides guidance on how to address them.

LeanIX EAM's comprehensive features and capabilities make it an invaluable tool for organizations looking to execute an effective and efficient application modernization.



Creating an application modernization roadmap is a vital step in transforming legacy systems. It requires detailed analysis, strategic planning, and careful execution.

By following a guided approach, leveraging tools like LeanIX EAM, and avoiding common challenges, organizations can align their roadmap with business goals.

A well-crafted roadmap is essential for staying competitive, unlocking value, and leading to a more resilient and future-ready organization.

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What is an application modernization roadmap?

An application modernization roadmap is a strategic plan that outlines the process of transforming legacy applications into modern, efficient systems. It includes detailed steps, strategies, timelines, and key elements to ensure a successful modernization effort, aligning with business goals and addressing technical challenges.

Why is an application modernization roadmap important?

Creating a roadmap is essential for a systematic and successful application modernization effort. It provides clarity, direction, and a structured approach, helping organizations to prioritize, plan, and execute modernization initiatives effectively. It also ensures alignment with business objectives and helps in risk mitigation.

How to create an application modernization roadmap?

Creating an application modernization roadmap involves several key steps. From defining the purpose, assessing the current state, envisioning the future state, developing strategies, creating an implementation plan, establishing monitoring criteria, and engaging stakeholders. It requires a detailed understanding of the existing applications, business needs, and modernization goals.

What are the key elements of an application modernization roadmap?

The key elements include an executive summary, current state analysis, future state vision, modernization strategy, implementation plan, monitoring and evaluation, stakeholder communication, and budget planning.

How does LeanIX help with the application modernization roadmap?

LeanIX offers tools and solutions that facilitate the creation and execution of an application modernization roadmap. It provides insights, analytics, and collaboration features that enable organizations to assess, plan, and manage modernization efforts efficiently. LeanIX's platform supports informed decision-making, streamlines processes, and enhances collaboration among stakeholders.

What are the 5 Rs of application modernization?

The 5 Rs refer to the main approaches to application modernization: Rehost, Replatform, Rearchitect, Rebuild, and Replace.

What are the challenges in application modernization?

Challenges include understanding the current IT landscape, setting clear goals, planning and executing the transformation, and monitoring and optimizing the new systems.


Free White Paper

The Business Transformation Management Playbook